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marta-bahillo-babaa
Image courtesy Marta Bahillo
Interview

Marta Bahillo

10.12.17

A super special interview today- in my inbox last week was an email from one of my favorite stores, Oroboro, inviting me to a babaà pop up event on Saturday, October 14th. Are you familiar with babaà? It’s the most gorgeous line of knitwear made in Spain where the brand is based. Designer Marta Bahillo studied fashion in Dublin before moving to Argentina to design womenswear. She eventually made her way back to Spain and launched babaà; the knitwear is comprised of 100% natural fibers and completely thoughtfully sourced and produced locally in Spain. I can’t remember how I discovered babaà but I own many sweaters for myself and my son. I wanted to introduce Marta to all of you, and encourage you to head to the pop up at Oroboro on Saturday between 12-4 if you’re around!

Interview

How did you decide to launch babaà?

I studied textile design, and fell for knitwear. After working in Dublin and Buenos Aires, I came back home and I wasn’t ready to give up knitwear. I had an offer to work for a big company in North Spain, but decided I wanted to keep true to my lifestyle ethos and family life so went ahead and started babaà.

Design, fabric sourcing, and production are all done in Spain- why was this so important to you?

I had all my contacts in Uruguay after working in Buenos Aires for two years, but I was well aware of the huge crisis in the textile industry in Spain from 2004 so decided to investigate what was left here. I found amazing things and it is so interesting to have it so close. Why would I go any further? I got sucked into the whole process, from the very beginning. Last week we even visited the cotton fields. I just love it. We have walked with our sheep doing trashumancia which is a seasonal movement of livestock crucial for the environment. The process now is as important as the final product, I just LOVE it so much.

How does it make you feel to know you are preserving artisan techniques and the local textile industry with babaà?

It feels amazing. When I started buying the wool the artisans said to me that it was disappearing, well, it is not now! I am as interested in artisans as I am in technology now. We work in a factory which has the latest Japanese knitting machine, this saves a lot of time and material. It is so efficient and innovative; it is exciting. We are now also working with one of the most ecological dyeing factories in Europe. I was blown away when we visited this summer. Based in North Spain they are doing an amazing job, thanks to great technology, some of which is developed by their own team. The are saving up to 70% in water! Every dye is GOTS certified and they get rid of all waste, including colour. And there is nothing harmful going into the water, not even the colour! It is so amazing. I am all on for technology now, we can do so much for the environment! I would write about this for hours.

What’s an average day like for you?

Breakfast with kids, and then off to the office at 8 until 1 pm, that’s my baby comes back to me. The bigger kids get home from school (their dad drops them and brings them back on a big bike, of course ) at around 3 pm, we eat together, and I go back to the office for a bit or just bring them to the park, depending on the day. Then dinner together and bed time, I love it. I manage to do some yoga, life drawing sessions and go out from time to time too.

Do you have a large team?

It is growing! We just employed a new person, and that makes me very happy!

Are you planning to wholesale the line?

No, our costs are super high. Local means expensive of course; we are producing in Europe and people get paid good salaries. Also materials are more expensive here, our cotton is so expensive, but so worth it. It is regulated by the EU, no child labour, no plastic tunnels… I could go on and on. It is IMPOSSIBLE to compete in price with China or Brazil. We do not want to put up our prices to enter the retail market, I don’t think this would be fair on our customers. I also like the creativity required to generate our own sales.

For a brand with such thoughtful attention as yours, how do you meet the demand for your product?

Working very hard and hand-in-hand with our factory. We could not do it without them, without the relationship or trust and commitment we have created between us. I thank them constantly.

Do you do trunk shows often?

YES! I love it! We want to do more and more but it is hard to manage so much traveling. I just love meeting our customers, it is magical. It makes it all real and more beautiful, full circle.

Why did you choose Oroboro?

I love that shop, and I love April’s work. I cannot wait to meet her in person.

Any fun plans on the agenda while you’re in town?

Yes! I will go to Jane’s Carousel on Friday morning to see the skyline and then walk for coffee and cookies, planned by another very special woman who I cannot wait to meet.

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